The Hong Kong Police Force has defended tackling a 12-year-old girl during a pro-democracy demonstration after a clip went viral of the incident. Police on Facebook said that the girl was attempting to flee during a stop-and-search action on Sunday in Mong Kok and they had used the “minimum necessary force” in subduing her.
The girl – who gave her first name as Pamela – told i-Cable that she and her elder brother lived on Waterloo Road in the area. They visited Yau Ma Tei to buy art supplies for class but could not pass through due to a police cordon, she said.
In a HKUST Radio News Reporting Team clip, she was seen running away from police on Sai Yeung Choi Street South. However, a riot police officer knocked her to the ground as other officers shouted: “Stand still.” Three officers then restrained the girl.
The force later wrote on Facebook that they were concerned about youngsters participating in prohibited group gatherings and that the officer used the “minimum necessary force” to subdue her: “During the interaction, she suddenly ran away in a suspicious manner. Officers therefore chased and subdued her with [the] use of minimum necessary force,” the post on Sunday read. “Police were concerned about youngsters participating in prohibited group gathering. Their presence at the chaotic protest scenes also endangers their own personal safety.”
The police issued penalty ticket to Pamela, her elder brother and a passer-by, accusing them of violating the Covid-19 ban on group gatherings of more than two people.
The siblings were later treated at Kwong Wah Hospital as Pamela’s elbow was injured and her brother Steven’s legs were bruised. Steven said they will refuse to pay the fine and will defend themselves in court: “I was very afraid. They asked me to stand still but I couldn’t calm myself so I ran away,” Pamela told i-Cable.
Riot police deployed in force across Yau Tsim Mong on Sunday after banning the protest on what would have been the legislative election polling day. Hundreds of protesters were taking to the streets against the national security law and the launch of a Covid-19 “health code,” which some democrats say puts citizens at risk of surveillance.
Over 289 arrests were made by the evening as officers fired pepperballs and pepper spray in Mong Kok.
New World First Bus driver arrested
Also on Sunday, a New World First Bus (NWFB) driver was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving. He sounded the horn of his 970 route bus whilst passing the congested junction of Nathan Road and Public Square Street during the demonstrations. Riot police officers got on the bus and made the arrest.
He was later accused of possessing offensive weapons after the force found a spanner in his bag, RTHK reported.
In a Facebook post, the New World First Bus Company Staff Union asked their members to drive in accordance with company guidelines: “We urge all drivers and other road users to use the road to the ‘highest safety standards,’ be patient, drive safely and with discipline,” the post read.
The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions wrote on Facebook that a group of NWFB drivers have planned a work to rule. They cited a Telegram message saying that drivers were ready to protest against the arrest.
A spokesperson for China’s office in Hong Kong condemned Sunday’s protests and activists who advocated “mutual destruction.”
“They blatantly violate the group gathering ban amid the pandemic. Their illegal acts is a provocative aggression to the law and our national consciousness and a ruthless disregard to the general public’s life and health,” the China Liaison Office spokesperson said. “In safeguarding the national security of Hong Kong and the stability of society, there are only rigid principles and no room for flexibility. There will be zero tolerance of all acts that violate the security law,” the statement read.